Today's post is by UM & Global blogmaster Dr. David W. Scott, Assistant Professor of Religion and Pieper Chair of Servant Leadership at Ripon College.
The Asia-Pacific Association of Methodist-related Educational Institutions (APAMEI) recently concluded a conference in Incheon, South Korea. Articles on the announcement of the conference and summarizing the activities of the conference are available on the GBHEM website. From the descriptions, the conference seems to have been a success.
That success suggests that the APAMEI itself, founded in 2012, is proving to be a success. The APAMEI unites representatives from institutions of higher education with Methodist roots from 16 countries across Asia and the Pacific, including China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Vietnam. The group also includes participants from GBHEM and Methodist educational institutions in the United States.
It's good to see the APAMEI be successful because it represents a promising model for what it means for the UMC to be part of a global church. It's a promising model for several reasons:
1. It includes not only historic off-shoots of American Methodism that are still connected to the UMC (such as the Philippines), but also those that have become autonomous (such as Korea and Singapore). As such, it represents a model for collaboration between American Methodists, the Central Conferences, and autonomous Methodist churches.
2. It is mission-focused. The purpose of the group is very clear: higher education. Higher education has traditionally been one of the ways in which Methodism has been in mission to the world. This group, then, is focused on carrying forward a long-standing form of Methodist mission in contemporary times.
3. An American-based board is involved as a partner and co-convener, but does not dominate the coversation. GBHEM General Secretary Kim Cape addressed the conference, but the majority of the speakers were from the Asia-Pacific region, and thus concerns arising from Asian and Pacific contexts could be heard. This was not another instance of either Americans talking and not listening or Americans setting the agenda even when others also speak.
APAMEI is only one of several regional education-related endeavors that GBHEM is involved in, so it is not the only example of such collaborative ministry in the church today. I hope this model, though, continues to catch on as a way for the various strands of global Methodism to work together.